10 February 2010

Write What You Don't Know

A conundrum for your lazy Wednesday...

Conventional wisdom, in the world of writing, says that one should write "what you know". I suppose that is a good place to start. Use the familiar as a springboard, a catalyst, a way to get the journey started. I understand that approach, and I suppose it does work.

To put that into relief, I'll quote one of my favorite passages in any work I have read, fiction or non-fiction, by English author Michael Moorcock:

"Man would always rather invent the miraculous, than investigate the ordinary (and discover the miraculous within)".

I find myself nodding my head every time I read that sentence. It has a lot of evidence to back it up, and I know that in my own work, I am often seduced by the glittery Invention which distracts me from the Ordinary.

But what if all you know is the ordinary? Is it possible, really, to extract the miraculous from therein if you do not have a good grasp of what constitutes 'miraculous'? What if you cannot escape the strictures of the Ordinary? Worse yet, what if...you don't really know anything?

Could it be that, if you don't know anything, your only recourse is pure Invention? What then? 

I can only hope that my Inventions are born of the Ordinary and informed by the Miraculous; that seems to me the core of good writing.

What's in your cranium?


  1. Lordy. What's in my cranium? God only knows.

    I like that, investigate the ordinary.

    I like it a lot.

  2. And it is so much fun to find the Miraculous in the Ordinary...!

  3. I need to think about this for a while IG. Too much to ponder and reply in a mere moment.

  4. Writing helps me discover the miraculous in the ordinary, and the ordinariness of the miraculous.

  5. Invention, outside of the kitchen, is not my strong suit. Observation, on the other hand, is - ever mired in the ordinary, I will find humor in it, if there is any to be found. If I can't find humor, then I will seek the truth, as I see it, and give it forth.

    Nothing wrong in that.

  6. Write what you wish to know :)

    Peace ~ Rene

    And in my cranium is ferret with a super ball

  7. Today my cranium appears to be filled with sharp pointy rocks that I hope the Advil is smoothing out.

  8. Some days I just have cephalorectal inversion. It's a bitch.

  9. Wow, that IS a great quote. I'll have to copy that onto...something...lessee...paper, pen, no wait, this glowing object in my lap.

    My cranium has wind blowing through at high speeds on a regular basis. I firmly believe that most times I know nothing. I try and pay attention to the ordinary, because I do believe the miraculous is there. It's a damn fine trick if you can do it. Life is weird and, in my experience, requires no Invention, because it's all I can do to hang on to the ordinary.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...